Sleepy Hollow Mermaid Festival Hits the Hudson Shores

Not all sea creatures are mythical mermaids. Photo: Greg Corbino

Brush off your fins, because this summer, the mermaids are coming to Sleepy Hollow. Part of the village’s 150th anniversary yearlong celebrations, the inaugural Mermaid Festival at Kingsland Point Park will host a parade set to the beat of Brazilian drumline FOGO Azul, with a party in the park to follow. But the event’s not all shiny costumes and plastic-free glitter. 

“The festival is really an environmental and river access event dressed up as a fun party,” says Megan Isenstadt of the Sleepy Hollow Project, who partnered with the village, Riverkeeper, and Rivertowns SUP & Yoga to organize the event. “We want to help tell the story of our park and river in a joyful, accessible way.” 

Kingland Point Park’s once public river beach is having an anniversary of its own. According to county records, it opened in 1924, 100 years ago, but shuttered 50 years later in 1974. Along with all the fun makings of a festival — food trucks, bounce houses, and music, plus a live mermaid named Ali Luminescent — the beach’s gates will be open for people to explore the shoreline.  

For Tracy Brown, Riverkeeper’s president and Hudson Riverkeeper, this was a natural fit for the org’s mission. “It supports our goal of opening more public swimming locations on the Hudson River, including the shuttered beach at Kingsland Point Park,” she says. “We have made great progress in cleaning up the Hudson. In order to keep that momentum going we need more people getting in the water and developing that direct connection with this beautiful waterway.” 

Many different types of mermaids can be found in the Hudson River. Photo: Bex Burton – Ali Luminescent

Alongside the costume parade on land, Rivertowns SUP & Yoga owner Tara Scheller will lead a water parade on the Hudson. “So many people come to my classes and have never been on the water before,” she says. “Sharing that experience with them is always so inspiring. Being on the water can be challenging, peaceful, therapeutic, and a great workout, too.” She’s excited to bridge her popular SUP Witches festival in October with a magical summer theme.  

“I’ll admit, there’s some uncertainty about how to paddle in a mermaid, tail but it’s amazing what you can come up with when you really put your mind to it,” Scheller says. “I can’t wait to see everyone’s creativity on the water.” 

Up in the park, community partners including Sleepy Hollow Arts Collective, Sustainable Sleepy Hollow, the Historical Society, Rivertown Dance Academy, Strawtown Studio, and the Shames JCC will host activities, entertainment, and informational tables. And to help drive home the river connection, there will be community artmaking with artist Greg Corbino, whose fantastical river puppet creations will also be on display in the parade. 

“Our community needs and deserves a direct connection with the Hudson River and the river needs that connection to our community,” Brown says. “Together we can thrive.” 

The Sleepy Hollow Mermaid Festival starts at noon on July 20, with the parade kicking off at 1pm and the festival continuing until 4.  

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